July 27, 2010 / 7:54 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Toyota expects next Prius model to be built in U.S.

* Expects Prius production in U.S. with next remodelling-exec

* Sees slow U.S. market recovery -executive

TOKYO, July 27 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will likely be able to build the popular Prius hybrid car in the United States when it is remodelled next, a top executive said on Tuesday.

Toyota had been planning to produce the world’s best-selling gasoline-electric car at its new Mississippi plant, but instead decided to build the Corolla sedan after local production of that model ended with the closure of a California factory formerly co-owned with General Motors Co [GM.UL]. [ID:nN17213996]

“The main components for the Prius — such as the motor and battery — are not mature enough for local production,” Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi said. “We expect that they’ll be ready with the next remodelling.”

Niimi, who oversees production as well as regional operations in North America and China for Toyota, said the company would decide in due course where in the United States it would make the fourth-generation Prius, expected around 2016.

A more near-term concern was the pace of recovery in the U.S. market, which he said would likely be slow.

“If you look at unemployment, housing, and other economic indicators there’s not much good news. I think it will take time for the market to recover,” he said, adding he did not share views that the U.S. market could recover to above 12 million units next year or to 14-15 million in 2012. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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